NFP and grave reasons


#1

I have always heard that a couple must have grave reasons in order to practice NFP for the purpose of avoiding another pregnancy. I am unclear somewhat on those reasons. Is the couple’s age considered serious enough? Thanks for your help!


#2

IMHO age combined with physical health or agility could be a grave reason. In fact, my husband and I were discussing that recently, because I have always had very difficult pregnancies with physical symptoms that make me not very functional, and if we were to continue having children through the rest of my 30s and into my 40s, I can imagine that it would only get tougher. Of course, even if we are practicing NFP in order to prevent pregnancy, we understand that we are still supposed to be willing to welcome any more children that we should be blessed with in spite of efforts to prevent pregnancy.
The grave reasons I have seen listed or discussed with regards to NFP were to space out children’s births, to ensure the health of the mother, to properly care for children already born, financial hardship, and a few others a can’t remember now. Age alone may not concern a couple, more likely is increased risk of complications or reduced energy levels that often come with age as one approaches menopause. Is that kind of what you meant? Or am I missing the point? :slight_smile:
BTW, I am new to this whole topic. NFP is what drew me to the Catholic church. I have yet to take a formal class (that is next month). I just have done a lot of online research, and my husband and I used our new knowledge of fertility signs to get pregnant, because Catholic teaching on family and marriage and children activated our baby-making buttons! So, I am no expert, just trying to figure all this out, too! :smiley:


#3

Ah, there's that pesky word "grave" again. "Serious" or "non-frivolous" would be the more accurate choices.

Health, especially as one ages, is a non-frivolous reason. (Whether or not it is a good reason for a given couple is something the couple must decide via prayer. But for many couples it would be.)


#4

Grave reasons need to be defined by the married couple, and probably with the consult of their priest. Yes, I think age is one of the reasons that one should definitely. Pregnancy and labor are hard on a woman’s body, and age can make it high risk as well. As we age, we start to develop conditions that we didn’t have earlier, and compounded with pregnancy can make things a gamble sometimes.


#5

Thanks for your help! Here's some info about my situation... My husband and I were married "late in life", I guess you could say. :) I was 33 and he was 43 at the time. We have been married for three years, and we have two children who are 27 mos and 15 mos, so 12 mos apart. They are "Irish twins"! :D We have been truly blessed. Both of my pregnancies were difficult, and the second was the hardest for sure. My husband is especially concerned about having more children now that he is 47. Both of our kiddos would be described as "high needs", and are tough cookies to say the least. I share my husband's concerns, but I have to admit I feel guilty about it. I wonder if this is a misplaced sense of guilt, though. I pray that we will always be open to God's will, and of course I know that in using NFP we are open to new life always. We would welcome a new baby with great joy. I guess I just want to make sure I am not going against God in our decision to avoid another pregnancy, at least at this time. Does that make sense? Again, thank you for your help!


#6

Back in the good old days, the married couple would typically consult the priest who would let them know whether their reason was sufficiently “grave.” The idea, of course, was that the Priest had a better understanding as to whether the couple actually had a grave reason or were simply trying to avoid children for the convenience.

I can tell you, however, that, traditionally a “grave reason” would be a situation for instance where pregnancy could threaten the life of the woman. If age was considered such a factor, then, chances are, it would have constituted a “grave reason.”

However, that’s why the Church has traditionally been reluctant to allow NFP use to be widespread, since it requires that each couple, in effect, become miniature theological bodies determining whether their situation falls into the category of no sin, venial sin or mortal. It can be like playing Russian Roulette if done improperly.

Hope this helps!


#7

I think health would be more of a factor than age…you can be 40 and healthier than a 30 yr old due to exercise and diet. My brother is young, but has a disease that gives him 10-15 yrs more of life to live (so the dr’s say.) His age is not the factor that is keeping him from having more children, it is his long term health. My husband and I are 40 and just had a new baby 3 weeks ago. I make a better parent now, than when I was in my 20’s.

As are all discernment issues, it is an individual thing, that must be decided with lots of prayer. One size does not fil all. :slight_smile:


#8

Are you comfortable saying anything about why they are “high needs”? It seems they have been identified very early in life which means maybe they had disabilities at birth? Or are hard to handle in general?

I would think that your ability to care for the children you have is important to factor in. The amount of energy and resources it takes to raise them needs to be considered when you think about the demands of another pregnancy. I would suggest talking to a priest. And I think the age of the husband in itself can be a good reason. Fathers are very important to their kids and to have children past a certain age means the father might not be around or might be in very poor health as they grow up. And that might not be the best situation for your family.


#9

They were not born with any diabilities, but my son was extremely colicky until about 4 months. He also had a serious reflux problem until he was one. My daughter had the same reflux problem until just recently. They are definitely tough to handle, and I know that some of that has to do with how close they are in age. But, in addition, my son is being evaluated currently for speech and sensory problems, and he also has a possible immune system issue. They are sweet and active kiddos, and truly a handful. I might just be a wimp too, I guess? I agree that my husband’s age could be considered as a serious reason. I really appreciate everyone’s input. Thank you!


#10

[quote="MommaT, post:9, topic:196531"]
They were not born with any diabilities, but my son was extremely colicky until about 4 months. He also had a serious reflux problem until he was one. My daughter had the same reflux problem until just recently. They are definitely tough to handle, and I know that some of that has to do with how close they are in age. But, in addition, my son is being evaluated currently for speech and sensory problems, and he also has a possible immune system issue. They are sweet and active kiddos, and truly a handful. I might just be a wimp too, I guess? I agree that my husband's age could be considered as a serious reason. I really appreciate everyone's input. Thank you!

[/quote]

I didn't start as late as your husband but the CCC does reference prudence when determining family size. Many of those I went to HS with are now grandparents. Mine are still all in public school.

There are other ways to have more children than making them yourself. ;) Spiritual children opportunities will come along with raising the ones you have. Scouts, soccer, baseball, school activities all contribute to opportunities to help raise more children. Practicing NFP is the way to go about your life. If God has some other plans, you'll know. Pray about it together. Sounds crazy but it gets great reviews!


#11

[quote="Onegin, post:6, topic:196531"]
Back in the good old days, the married couple would typically consult the priest who would let them know whether their reason was sufficiently "grave." The idea, of course, was that the Priest had a better understanding as to whether the couple actually had a grave reason or were simply trying to avoid children for the convenience.

I can tell you, however, that, traditionally a "grave reason" would be a situation for instance where pregnancy could threaten the life of the woman. If age was considered such a factor, then, chances are, it would have constituted a "grave reason."

However, that's why the Church has traditionally been reluctant to allow NFP use to be widespread, since it requires that each couple, in effect, become miniature theological bodies determining whether their situation falls into the category of no sin, venial sin or mortal. It can be like playing Russian Roulette if done improperly.

Hope this helps!

[/quote]

Which is why the Church uses the word "serious" rather than "grave" in her English translations. NFP is not reserved for life and death situations.

A serious reason to *delay *having another child would include such things as enabling a woman to travel without the difficulties caused by pregnancy. A serious reason to *refrain *from having another child would be the age and health of both parents.

And remember as long as there is a any child under legal age in the home a parent is obeying the directive to bear and raise children.


#12

[quote="MommaT, post:5, topic:196531"]
My husband is especially concerned about having more children now that he is 47.

[/quote]

If you were to get pregnant now, your husband would be in his 70s before your child would be graduating from college. It seems like prudence, not selfishness, to take this into consideration. Only you and your husband can make the final decision (always being open to God having a different plan), but all the reasons you have listed seem like serious reasons, especially because they are focused on the good of the entire family.


#13

Thank you everyone. Reading your replies has brought me so much peace and also given me more "food for thought". :)


#14

Actually I think the quote is “serious” reason. I don’t recall “grave” beind used.

The beauty of using NFP to space children is that you don’t have to obsess about how serious your reason is. Consider it, pray about it, but don’t anguish. If you are really listening for God’s voice, you’ll hear it when the time comes. With NFP, every month you and your husband stare your serious reason in the eye and make a difficult sacrifice to avoid pregnancy that month.

In my experience, this does wonders for exposing rationalized “serious reasons” that really aren’t. And at 10.5 years of marriage, I have baby #3 (so far) as evidence of this phenomenon! :smiley:


#15

I just wanted to share an example of a serious reason to use NFP to avoid a pregnancy.

DH & I have been using NFP for 13 yrs. to avoid conceiving b/c I have many serious health issues including a blood clotting disorder where my body throws clots at any given time (I had a stroke 5 yrs. ago) & the medication I am taking can cause serious harm to myself & to an unborn child if I were to get pregnant (as well as bleeding out during delivery). Also, I have Crohn’s disease & the medications I take for that illness can cause serious complications.

Even though we can’t have children, we’ve been blessed w/6 nephews and 4 nieces ranging from 1 yr. old - 12 yrs. of age.

Our NFP practitioner has been a blessing to us b/c whenever a question arose regarding my fertility after an ER visit or surgery, she was supportive and able to explain things in a way that DH & I could understand. I wish you and your DH the very best. God bless. :slight_smile:


#16

The “directive” to bear and raise children is independent of whether or not one has children under legal age at home. A family with 0 children could have grave/just/serious reasons to postpone pregnancy while a family with 4 children under legal age might be called to receive many more blessings.

To the OP. Our Church in its wisdom does not have a list of specific reasons why we can or cannot choose to avoid. It calls us to act with a spirit of generosity. It says that for just reasons a couple can choose to space births etc.

I personally don’t agree with the statements where people suggest it is not good to have children past a certain age (and I am talking about having children naturally, not using IVF etc to make someone past their childbearing age get pregnant). God has plans for everyone and we should do our best to listen and try to figure out what he wants of us. We have someone in our extended family who had two daughters at 50+ (and some before that). The girls have both graduated from college, he walked them down the aisle to get married, and he is now enjoying his grandkids. My dad was a physically fit soldier, yet he died at age 31. God has different plans for different people. Each couple is unique and should do it best to figure out what God wants of them, through prayer and guidance of a good spiritual advisor.


#17

[quote="lifeisbeautiful, post:16, topic:196531"]

To the OP. Our Church in its wisdom does not have a list of specific reasons why we can or cannot choose to avoid. It calls us to act with a spirit of generosity. It says that for just reasons a couple can choose to space births etc.

[/quote]

Exactly.

[quote="lifeisbeautiful, post:16, topic:196531"]
I personally don't agree with the statements where people suggest it is not good to have children past a certain age .

[/quote]

I'm sure there are some people who think that people over a certain age should never have children. But I haven't seen that in this thread. What I have seen is that some of us believe a couple would be making a just decision if they decided their age was a sufficient reason to use NFP to delay having more children until such time as fertility ends naturally. If another couple of similar age and health decides they do want (more) children then that's fine too.

For example, I would say that a 40 year old couple with several children would be making a just decision if they discerned that they "had enough" because of their age. On the other hand it would be very reasonable for a recently married 40 year old healthy couple with no children to use NFP to try and achieve pregnancy.


#18

[quote="manualman, post:14, topic:196531"]
Actually I think the quote is "serious" reason. I don't recall "grave" beind used.

The beauty of using NFP to space children is that you don't have to obsess about how serious your reason is. Consider it, pray about it, but don't anguish. If you are really listening for God's voice, you'll hear it when the time comes. **With NFP, every month you and your husband stare your serious reason in the eye and make a difficult sacrifice to avoid pregnancy that month.

In my experience, this does wonders for exposing rationalized "serious reasons" that really aren't. ** And at 10.5 years of marriage, I have baby #3 (so far) as evidence of this phenomenon! :D

[/quote]

And right there you have it. Don't worry another minute about whether your reasons are "serious enough". Some might think their reasons serious on a random Tuesday when talking over dinner, but wait until the opportunity hits and you're in the middle of fertile time after three weeks of flu season. Your reasons might just fly out the window. Then again, they might not. Then you can figure they're serious.

That's the beauty of NFP. It'll expose the truth in all sorts of different ways, this being one of them.


#19

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